Avoid roaming charges and buy a USA sim card before you travel. There are so many places you can get a USA sim card, there’s no excuse not to except if you do not have a compatible phone.
For European travelers heading to the United States
Before you buy a USA sim card, you need to make sure that your cell/mobile phone is compatible. Make sure your phone is at least a quad-band phone and that it is unlocked to any network/carrier. If you are traveling from Europe, you mostly likely have a GSM phone which, under the right conditions, will work fine in the U.S. Alternatively, you can get your phone unlocked prior to travel, purchase an unlocked phone or an unlocked dual sim card mobile phone. With an unlocked dual sim card phone you don’t even have to swap out your sim card. You just insert the new card into the empty slot.
How to buy a USA sim card
There are two ways to buy a USA sim card. First, you can order one online at least 30 days prior to travel. If you order more than a month ahead of time, make sure the sim card will still be valid during your period of travel. You will be sent a sim card with a phone number and activation instructions. There are many online companies that you can buy a U.S. sim card from. This is a good idea because you can be good to go pretty much as soon as you land. I’ve tried this method and it works well. I set up my prepaid U.S. sim card kit while in the air or upon arrival at my hotel by simply inserting it into the phone. Then I activate it. If I’m still in the air when I put in the new sim card, I just activate it after I land. Then I can start making phone calls. No problem. I then pack away my own sim card until I returned home. While still in the air, I replaced my U.S. sim card with my own sim card so I could make calls, if necessary, as soon as I landed.
Here are a few places to buy online:
UPDATE: SimpleMobile DO NOT ship outside the U.S. They also require a U.S. credit card in order to make a purchase. Disappointing.
Very easy to use. Some of the features include:
- No registration, no personal information so it’s no hassle
- Simply insert the sim card and send a text message to activate your card
- No limit on inbound and outbound calls within the USA
- No restrictions on evenings and weekends
- Free unlimited inbound and outbound international SMS messaging while visiting the USA
- 4G LTE data speeds across the USA
- Several different plans to choose from
- Worldwide shipping
Alternatively, you can wait until you get to the U.S. and buy a sim card from a local cellular phone company such as T-Mobile. I had a good experience with T-Mobile. When I went to the states last year, I went into T-Mobile, told them I needed a U.S. sim card and was given a kit for $50. This kit included unlimited calls and texts for a month. I was only going to be in the states for a few weeks so it definitely was worth my while. You can also get a prepaid data sim card that will include Internet access.
My Ready Sim Experience
I just came back from a visit to the U.S. and bought a sim card with Ready Sim. This will be the third time I’ve used them. The plan I purchased was the Talk+Text+Data plan for 21 days at a cost of $50. The plan included unlimited nationwide talk, free international texts and 4G LTE data. It also comes with a local phone number. All you have to do is type in the zip code of the area you are visiting and you are given a local number. You can check out the plan here.
I was disappointed at first because all I really wanted was a phone plan–not a data plan. Ready Sim do no have phone-only plans so I was stuck with the added data. Turns out that it really came in handy to have that added feature!
I spent a few days up in Vermont while away and didn’t have phone service up there. I have no idea why but at least I had wifi service! I couldn’t make or receive calls but at least I could send text messages and media via Google Hangouts and Whatsapp!
All in all, it was a good experience and I’m sure I’ll use them again for my next trip. $50 isn’t that much considering how much use I got out of it.
If you are living in Australia, you can get a prepaid simcard for many different countries right at the airport. Simcorner.com has kiosks at both the Sydney and Melbourne
For U.S. travelers heading to Europe
The sim card is preactivated with a UK phone number that includes €18.00 credit. The promotion is limited to 3,500 sim cards and is on a first come first served basis. Click the image for more details.
For traveling around Europe, make sure your phone is GSM compatible as well. Most European countries use GSM. You will, most likely, have to put in an unlocking request with your carrier. They may or may not allow it and they may also charge you a fee for unlocking the phone. iPhones are notorious for being difficult to unlock but it’s not impossible and I personally know of one person who had their iPhone 4S unlocked before traveling.
For staying in touch while traveling around the rest of the world, check out Onesimcard.com. You can buy a prepaid sim card for many different countries at the Onesimcard.com online store.
You can also buy prepaid sim cards through Amazon.com.
Got a great tip to share about keeping in touch while traveling? Leave a comment and share your experience! Thanks!